Depression and Anxiety, Invisible Illnesses, Can Lead to Suicide
Trigger warning: this post involves frank discussion of suicide and depression and anxiety.
Lately, I have been thinking about what it looks like when someone experiences mostly invisible illnesses, like anxiety and depression, and feels suicidal. Depression and anxiety are not always visible. People have expressed to me their surprise that I have dealt with chronic anxiety for a long time. But it's true, and I guess at some point I became really good at always acting like everything was fine.
My Experiences with Depression and Anxiety, Invisible Illnesses
The truth is anxiety and depression often went hand-in-hand for me. Since the time I was a teenager, I can think of numerous instances in which, on the outside, I acted like everything was okay, but on the inside, I was experiencing inner turmoil that I felt I could not escape.
But we live in a world where someone like me with numerous degrees, including a doctorate in psychology, isn't supposed to have any issues. Even though there is more discussion about mental illness today, from what I've experienced, there is still often a stigma attached.
So, throughout most of my life, I've cultivated a way to appear as though everything is fine of the surface. I tend to be calm, organized, focused, and mild-mannered. It might seem as though my anxiety does not have control over me and, instead, that I always have control over it.
In reality, this is far from the truth. The truth is that I am often anxious. I often feel like I am continuously working to manage my anxiety symptoms. Some days, it is exhausting. There are days that I am mentally tired from trying to calm my mind of chaotic, racing thoughts and excessive worry. That calm, organized, focused, and mild-mannered person is often excessively worrying, overthinking things, second-guessing herself, and trying desperately to keep the negative self-talk at bay.
Depression and Anxiety Are Not Always Visible
Something I have learned since being more vocal about my experiences is that I am not alone in how I feel. And something that I have also learned is that you never really know what someone else is going through with the invisible illnesses of anxiety and depression. What you see on the surface may be just the tip of a large iceberg looming below.
This may also be the case with someone who is not only anxious but depressed, and even suicidal. I think back to the depression I experienced as a teenager. I often felt like people didn't know what I was going through. I often felt alone and frustrated that others did not understand. But at the same time, I didn't want to tell people what I was going through because I was afraid of what they would think of me.
I also wonder now, though -- how many of my friends, or other people that I knew, were going through similar turmoil but they just didn't say anything? How many others were anxious or depressed or suicidal and I just didn't know or other people in their lives didn't know?
Each of us goes through our own experiences, struggles, and challenges in life. We don't know what inner chaos each other is experiencing. At the same time, we never really know how far something as simple as kindness, compassion, and understanding can go. If we treat others with this in mind, that kindness, compassion, and understanding might just be what someone needs on a tough day to help them feel like they are not alone. If might just be what someone needs to prevent the worst from happening.
If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section.
Bermio-Gonzalez, R. (2020, September 8). Depression and Anxiety, Invisible Illnesses, Can Lead to Suicide, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2020/9/depression-and-anxiety-invisible-illnesses-can-lead-to-suicide
Author: Rizza Bermio-Gonzalez
Thank you for sharing your experience so that others can find some connection and solace in your words, as I know they will. I love that you made a point of acknowledging that of course we never know what others are dealing with, but also, "At the same time, we never really know how far something as simple as kindness, compassion, and understanding can go." How true this is.
Thank you so much for your comments. I do think it is so important to remember that we never really know how our actions can affect others, especially because we don't know what is happening beneath the surface.
I appreciate your thoughts. Hope all is well.